PR: Hull City vs Birmingham

I first started going to watch City regularly in the early 90s with my Dad. We sat back up in the South Stand Upper, and this was the quality of football on display. Needless to say, fans were often left to make their own entertainment, and this helped to breed a good atmosphere fuelled mainly by banter (and perhaps a few pints). Jokes were often shouted at our own players, with references made to heads of centre-backs resembling the shape of coins, the ironic use of “cultured” to describe the foot of a defender as another ball is hoofed up field, as well as the usual reference to pies depending on the weight of the player. Whether or not the players could hear these shouts from way back up where we sat isn’t really the issue, as generally speaking, the fans supported the players’ efforts and had a balanced sense of expectation considering the club’s fortunes at the times.

Back in those days, if you ever told me we’d have a player who not only works hard but is capable of scoring a goal like this one, using his weaker foot, I’d have thought you mad. If you’d then gone on to tell me that the same player is being vilified and booed by his own supporters, I’d have driven you to De La Pole myself. I’ve seen specific players targeted in the past. The likes of Chris Lee, Junior Lewis and Dean Marney have received criticism from those around me in the stands and perhaps understandably; sideways passes and “covering ground” are hardly the things that entice supporters to the ground. But I can’t recall hearing them booed off and being told that they’re not fit to wear the shirt. I don’t mean to preach or convince supporters to change their mind about a player, but to me, it doesn’t make sense kicking any of the players while they’re down. A new manager will be appointed soon, and they will form their own opinion of their players. In the meantime, I’ll be getting behind Dawson and ALL the boys.

Mini rant over, and eyes turn to Sunday and the visit of fellow strugglers Birmingham. I say strugglers, but the Blues have actually been in good form for a team in their position in the league. Last Saturday’s 3-0 win against Bristol City being the latest in a run which has seen them win 3, draw 2 and only lose 1 since August. Saturday’s win also highlighted their strength from set-pieces, with all 3 goals coming from dead-ball situations. The 3 central defenders at the back will surely be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a side that has conceded 7 times from set-pieces this season. A probable “I was there” moment will be seeing the introduction of 17-year-old midfielder Jobe Bellingham off the bench for Birmingham. The younger brother of Jude has featured regularly as a substitute this season and is highly rated. Don’t be surprised if you hear a Liverpool or Manchester accent in the crowd as the Stourbridge-born starlet is being widely scouted by Premier League teams.

As for the Tigers, it would be great to see a few players given a chance. McLoughlin continues to wait patiently for his chance, while the form of Will Jarvis and Jim Simms in the reserves could see them on the bench on Sunday. Brandon Fleming got through 45 minutes for the under-21s on Monday, but this game is surely a bit too soon to see him return. Regan Slater is suspended. A result is hard to predict, but I’m going to go for a 2-1 City win. Dawson won his only home game as manager so far, and Birmingham have been less dependable on the road. Ryan Longman, to score the winner coming off the bench?

Prediction: Hull City 2-1 Birmingham City

Predicted line-up: Baxter; Coyle, Jones, Greaves, Elder; Seri, Docherty, Tufan, Sinik, Pelkas; Oscar.

The preview to the game kindly provided in partnership with Hull City OSC.